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Bulls look to replace Jimmy Butler

Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler celebrates basket against Brooklyn Nets  during first half Game 4 their first-round NBA basketball playoff

Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler celebrates a basket against the Brooklyn Nets during the first half in Game 4 of their first-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, April 27, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)

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Updated: November 21, 2013 12:26PM



DENVER – Replacing Jimmy Butler isn’t exactly going to be easy for the Bulls, and maybe that’s why as of Thursday’s shootaround coach Tom Thibodeau was still weighing the decision.

It’s obviously going to be either Mike Dunleavy or Kirk Hinrich, and just because it’s one or the other tonight against the Nuggets doesn’t mean it won’t be subject to change on this current six-game road trip.

“I don’t know,’’ Thibodeau said. “I’ve thought about it both ways. They’ve both practiced with the first unit. A lot of it is what it means for the entire game. And so I’m still thinking about it.’’

Specifically, what it does to the bench.

The Bulls have been playing with a nine-man rotation on most nights with Marquis Teague, Mike James, Tony Snell and Erik Murphy all spectators. Of the four, Snell might be called upon for some minutes, simply because the Bulls are thin at the wing positions with Butler nursing turf toe for the next few weeks.

“The first step is learning the NBA game and preparing themselves to play in an NBA game,’’ Thibodeau said of his rookies Snell and Murphy. “As I said all along, they have the first step down in terms of how they approach it and their attitude. They’re still a work in progress.

“[Snell] has to be ready. He has to continue to develop and show he’s capable of making shots. He has to be able to handle the defense. I like the way he’s approaching things. I like the way he works.’’

As for Derrick Rose, there could be more time for him at the two guard if Thibodeau uses Hinrich and Teague at the same time, and that’s fine with Rose.

“I’m feeling energized,’’ Rose said. “Just ready to get out here and play. My rhythm is coming back a little bit more. And as a team I think we’re playing good basketball. That’s the only thing I have to worry about.’’

Rose did add that he suffered from turf toe two years ago, and it still bothers him to this day.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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